Obstetricians are urging pregnant women to book early for maternity care following a report showing many foetal or infant deaths could have been avoided.
The Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee report says 19% of the deaths of 665 babies or foetuses in 2011 could have been avoided, had the foetus been screened for congenital abnormalities in time.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is urging pregnant women to see an obstetrician or midwife no later than 10 weeks into their term.
The chair of the college, John Tait, says in most of the cases of deaths deemed avoidable the mother did not see a midwife or obstetrician until late in her pregnancy and thus missed out on crucial antenatal care.
The report shows Pacific Island and Maori women are more likely to book late for maternity care than Pakeha women are.